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Over a dozen cities in China have imposed restrictions on electricity use in recent weeks. It comes as the country is facing a post-coronavirus economic recovery as well as shortages of thermal coal.
Chinese energy and industrial groups have warned the shortage was partially caused by a ban on Australian coal as tensions between the two nations continue to escalate.
Many power plants in China depend on coal which have been hit by the trade embargo.
According to the Financial Times, a director at China Huadian Corporation, one of the country’s largest energy groups said the ban could “change the industry landscape”.
They said: “The import curb is enough to change the industry landscape.
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“Many local power plants depend on Australian coal due to its higher efficiency and now they are having trouble finding an alternative.”
The problem for China has reportedly worsened as the country’s economy has bounced back in recent months.
At least four Chinese provinces have asked their residents and businesses to cut electricity use due to the shortage of coal.
This month, authorities in Hunan announced that Government agencies would cut their electricity consumption.
They also said that half of the province’s street lights would be turned off at night.
Last week, high-rise buildings in the province’s capital Changsha cut off power to lifts and forced workers to climb up 20 flights of stairs to get to offices.
A Changsha-based office worker told the Financial Times: “I’ve never had so much trouble going to the office.”
He added how he was stuck in a lift for 40 minutes last week due to a power shortage.
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Mike Li, owner of a plastic flower factory in Yiwu, told the Financial Times: “We are not living a normal life when our factory can only work two days a week and the streets are dark at night.”
The city of Yiwu in eastern China switched off all its street lights during the evening and has forced factories to reduce working hours by 80 percent until the end of the year.
Officials in China have reportedly blamed the power shortages on a mixture of an unusually cold winter in some parts of the country and high energy demands.
But power plants in China has also said the ban on Australian coal has also impacted the power shortages.
One official from the trade association the China Electricity Council told the Financial Times that the important ban “doesn’t make economic sense”.
According to official data, power plants in China obtained around 3 percent of their thermal coal from Australia last year.
The trade accusation official added how this could be higher than 10 percent in some more developed provinces in China that like the high quality of Australian coal.
The official from Huadian Corporation told the Financial Times how they do not expect China to relax the Australian coal ban.
They said: “We don’t expect the government to relax import control just because of the trouble it has caused.
“Politics come first.”
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